Courses in the field of polymer processing and working were taught as early as the academic year 1970/1971 when, according to preserved documents, the subject ‘Polymer processing’ was introduced into the syllabus of the fourth semester of full time studies at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the Higher School of Engineering. The course format consisted of one hour of lecture and one hour of lab a week. These classes had been preceded by lectures on Materials science in the second semester, five hours of which were devoted to polymers. This conformed to the later provisions of the Ministry of Science, Higher Education and Technology. The lecturers in full time and evening programmes were Jerzy Krzemiński, Ph.D., Eng. (also employed at the Warsaw University of Technology) and Kazimierz Kuszewski, M.Sc., Eng. (replaced by Korneliusz Dubicki, Eng. two years later).
In 1977, Assoc. Prof. Robert Sikora, Ph.D., D.Sc., Eng. from the University of Technology and Agriculture in Bydgoszcz was employed in the Institute of Plastics Forming at the Lublin University of Technology. Together with other scientists from this Institute – Kazimierz Kuszewski, Ph.D., Eng., Irena Sasimowska, M.Sc., Eng. (parental leave), Korneliusz Dubicki, Eng. and Liliana Dudziak, he started the process of establishing the Department of Polymer Processing and Working, which was officially launched in 1982.
The Department offered courses not only for its own students but also for full-time, evening, and extramural graduate students majoring in Manufacture Technology in a new specialization ‘Polymer Processing’ within the programme ‘Machine Technology’. Assistant Professor Robert Sikora worked out the framework and assumptions for this specialization and developed the entire syllabus. The Department staff undertook to equip teaching and research laboratories.
The first doctoral dissertation in the Department was written by Kazimierz Kuszewski, MSc, Eng. It was entitled “Testing and Development of an Express Method for the Evaluation of the Quality of Polymer Blending.” Due to the lack of the right to award the degree of a doctor by the Council of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering , the defence of this doctoral thesis was held at Leningrad Technological Institute on 16th December 1975. The next doctoral thesis was written by Korneliusz Dubicki, MSc, Eng., and the defence took place at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Technology of the Warsaw University of Technology on 14th October 1980.
In 1984, the full time graduate programme in ‘Polymer Processing’ within the major of ‘Mechanics’ (transformed from the major of ‘Manufacture Technology’), specialization ‘Machine Technology’, ) included twelve courses and the total number of classes was 585 hours.
In June 1985, the Faculty was reorganized. All technological institutions were joined into one department – the Department of Machine Technology, headed by prof. Robert Sikora. In 1988, that Department was converted into the Department of High-molecular Processing. Nine years later, due to the increasing activity of the Department and the necessity of adjusting it to the European Union law, the Department was re-named as the Department of Polymer Processing.
On 9th July 1990 the first doctoral defence at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the LUT took place – it was the defence of Stanisław Skonecki, Ph.D., Eng., who submitted a thesis entitled: “The impact of technological parameters of blowing extrusion of PE-LD film on the change of operational properties due to ageing.” The supervisor was Jerzy Krzemiński, Ass. Prof., Ph.D., D.Sc., Eng. The first doctoral thesis at our Faculty written by a foreigner - Ali A. Makhief Al Zubiedy from Iraq - and entitled: “Study of the impact of injection moulding on selected properties of polyamide pulley gears” was also prepared at the Department of Polymer Processing. The doctoral defence took place on 8th April 1992. The supervisor was Prof. Robert Sikora, Ph.D., D.Sc., Eng.
In 1994 the polymer processing importance increased as a result of transformation of the previous speciality into specialization ‘High-molecular Processing,’ which was the only such specialization in Poland, and later into ‘Polymer Processing.’ Since then, students have been recruited directly for this specialization in the major ‘Mechanics and Machinery Construction.’
Out-of-date laboratory equipment used in the seventies was withdrawn from use a long time ago. There are seven Department laboratories equipped with 62 laboratory stands. Most of them are computerized. The laboratory equipment, according to market price estimates, is valued at 1.5 million zlotys at least.
In the academic year 1999/2000, the flexible educational system was introduced in all kinds of studies at the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering. The compulsory subjects of the ‘Polymer Processing’ specialization were established. There were 11 subjects and 420 hours in the Master studies and 8 subjects and 330 hours in the Bachelor studies. The elective subjects were established, as well. There were 10 of them in the Master studies (495 total hours) and 6 in the Bachelor studies (285 total hours). All these classes are run by the Department’s academic teachers and this is only a part of a very important teaching activity of the Department of Polymer Processing. The total number of Department’s teaching hours in the academic year 2002/2003 was 3500.
The year 2000 was of great importance for the Department’s history because the first postdoctoral dissertation written by Janusz W. Sikora, Ph.D., D.Sc., Eng., entitled: “Study of autothermicity of extrusion moulding and extruder’s grooved area,” was published. The defence of the thesis took place on 8th December 2000 at the Faculty of Machinery Construction and Management of the Poznań University of Technology.
On 10th April 2002 the first defence of a postdoctoral thesis in the 50-year-history of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering of the LUT took place. The dissertation entitled: “Processes determining the flow of plastic in the injection form and its effectiveness” was written by Elżbieta Bociąga, Ph.D., D.Sc., Eng. from the Częstochowa University of Technology. The most important part of the thesis was prepared during the six-month research training at the DPP.
Associate Professor Beata Kowalska, Ph.D., D.Sc., Eng. from the Faculty of Environmental Engineering of the LUT and Regina Jeziórska, Ph.D., D.Sc., Eng. from the Industrial Chemistry Research Institute in Warsaw are other collaborators of our Department who have done research connected with polymer processing and got the postdoctoral degree at the Faculty of Mechanical Engeenering of the LUT.
The postdoctoral colloquium of B. Kowalska’s (Ph.D., D.Sc., Eng.) thesis, entitled: “Processing aspects of thermodynamic properties of thermoplastic polymers” took place on 5th December 2007 and now she holds a post of an associate professor at the LUT, whereas Regina Jeziórska, Ph.D., Eng., working at the Industrial Chemistry Research Institute in Warsaw, got the postdoctoral degree in science on 12th March 2008. The postdoctoral dissertation submitted by her was entitled: “Study of the reactive extrusion process.”
On the initiative of Professor Robert Sikora, Ph.D., D.Sc., Eng. and under his chairmanship, the DPP has for many years organized Professors’ Scientific Workshops, which gather scientists from leading Polish scientific and academic centers who deal with broadly understood processing of polymer plastics. The scientific aim of the Workshops is to create and develop a methodological school of processing of polymer plastics, shape the personality of creators, indicate the areas of development, directions of integration, and ecological processing of polymers, develop a methodolgy of writing doctoral and post-doctoral dissertations, and exchange views on prominent current economic problems associated with polymer plastic processing.
Invitations to participate in the Workshops are issued to full professors, associate professors, assistant professors and doctors, as well as other employees of universities (including doctoral students), scientific, research, and development centers, and industrial units interested in progress in plastics processing. The Workshops deal with the following issues:
• The fundamentals of polymer plastic processing;
• New polymer materials, fillers, auxiliary agents, and their applications;
• Development of machines, tools, and technological instruments for processing;
• Theoretical and application problems associated with new plastic recycling technologies;
• Methods of processing engineering;
• New or little recognized issues in plastics processing;
• Quality, effectiveness, and ecology of action in processing;
• Supervision and evaluation of doctoral and post-doctoral theses;
• Problems of teaching in undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral engineering programs;
• Research projects and science-and-technology publications.
The Department of Polymer Processing has had the pleasure of organizing three Professors’ Scientific Workshops: the 4th and 10th Workshops held in Kazimierz Dolny upon Vistula in 1999 and 2005, and the 13th Workshops held in Lublin in 2008.
Since October 2008 the position of the Head of the Department of Polymer Processing has been held by Professor Janusz W. Sikora, Ph.D., D.Sc., Eng., who on 25th September 2009 was awarded the title of Professor of Technical Sciences. He received the title from the hands of the President of the Republic of Poland, Mr. Lech Kaczyński, on 3rd March 2010.